Today, every nonprofit organization uses social media as a way to promote the cause and increase donations. Most, if not all, have an online presence through email and on popular platforms such as Twitter & Facebook. However, even the most active nonprofits on social media could significantly improve their prospects if they used social media more effectively.
Compared with normal marketing efforts such as direct mail, flyers, and phone banks, it is estimated that social media can increase exposure up to 400 percent. That number is startling but even more significant is that lots of nonprofits are missing out on a golden opportunity to broaden their footprint and capture more donations.
Far too many charitable organizations use social media platforms like they use email and just send out mass messages to potential donors. What they forget to do or prefer not to, is engage in a dialogue with those potential donors they are targeting. The interaction can lead to more connections and important relationships that can drive more donations. The strategies employed can have significant results.
For example, in a recent university study, an experiment was set up to test how effective it is in asking donors to invite all their friends to join them in contributing via Facebook. Donors were randomly selected and encouraged to tell others about their own contribution and to ask friends to join them in providing a gift through a post on their Facebook wall or by sending a private message.
The results showed that people were more apt to post on their wall than send a message. Moreover, if offered an extra $1 or $5 charitable gift in their name as an incentive for posting, most in the study would gladly do it. While some would argue that offering incentives are counterproductive since most organizations have limited marketing budgets, they shouldn’t be spending fundraising dollars on pressing existing donors, but rather on trying directly to reach new benefactors.
However, others say that if you don’t provide incentives, you’ll always be in the same cycle where you’re targeting the same people every time without reaching new potential donors. Even without incentives, nonprofits should tell their donors the value of social sharing and encourage them to post announcements about their contributions.
One other sharing strategy soon to be tested, is a more direct approach where you ask a particular friend, but do so publicly with a post on that person’s Facebook wall. In some cases, this might cause some friction socially, but it could provide the impetus for the friend to contribute.
It will be interesting to see the results of that experiment, but for now, it’s clear that there are plenty of opportunities for interaction through social media. Whether your organization is looking to raise funds for an event or keep the pipeline to donors open, if used effectively the benefits of social media can be significant.